Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Pedagogical Practices in Online Community-College Classes with High and Low Completion Rates: A Multiple-Case Study
by Underwood, Anita Demjen, Ed.D., Northcentral University, 2012, 184; 3534523
Abstract (Summary)

Growing enrollment in online education has been accompanied by high attrition rates. Existing studies of student attrition in online courses have focused primarily on student-level and institution-level factors, rather than on factors causing attrition at the classroom level. The purpose of this qualitative, comparative, multiple-case study was to examine pedagogical practices in three online class sections with high completion rates and three online class sections with low completion rates at a community college in the southeastern part of the United States. Instructor-controlled, classroom-related factors were examined, including (a) the use of student-faculty contact, (b) cooperation among students, (c) active learning, (d) prompt feedback, (e) time on task, (f) high expectations, and (g) diverse talents and ways of learning. Six online class sections (two science sections, two humanities sections, and two social science sections) were purposefully selected for the study based on completion data at the end of the Spring 2011 semester. Half of the selected cases had completion rates of 75% or above, and the remaining cases had completion rates under 50%. Six instructors and 29 students completed the Critical Incident Questionnaire. The same six instructors, as well as 18 students, participated in open-ended, semistructured telephone interviews. Unobtrusive classroom observations were also conducted. Levels of student satisfaction were high for all cases. Contact between students and faculty was found to be strongly encouraged and practiced. Instructors were also found to provide prompt feedback, emphasize time on task, and communicate high expectations. According to the findings, developing reciprocity and cooperation among students, using active learning techniques, and respecting diverse talents and ways of learning were not emphasized. The learning practices were found to follow an instructivist, rather than a constructivist, model. With the exception of emphasizing time on task, no notable differences in instructional practices were found between low-completion cases and high-completion counterparts. Recommendations for further research include studying instructor interaction with completers and noncompleters, studying low-completion and high-completion cases taught by the same instructor, studying pedagogical practices with completers and noncompleters, and studying how truncated semesters (i.e., 4-week and 8-week courses) affect completion rates.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gibbons, Constance
Commitee: Fatata-Hall, Kimberley, Gibbons, Constance, Tawil-Hijazi, Hanan
School: Northcentral University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Community college education
Keywords: Community-colleges, Distance education, Online classes, Online education, Retention
Publication Number: 3534523
ISBN: 978-1-267-81678-8
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